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Edward Willis

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8° 41' S., 125° 59' 06" E [1]


Cribas location map [2]

Loss of Hudson Bomber A16-209

“In North-Western Area during August the two hard-worked Hudson squadrons - Nos. 2 and 13 - had continued their task of harassing the enemy's bases in the islands north of the Arafura and Timor Seas, and supporting the guerilla force on Timor.  The need for support for Sparrow Force was now more urgent than ever because in August the Japanese opened a determined offensive aimed at enveloping and destroying the Australian-Dutch force.


“During the remainder of August [1942] Hudsons were over Timor almost every day dropping supplies and attacking Japanese positions.  Thus on 21st August five Hudsons of No. 2 set out to support the hard-pressed troops on Timor by attacking Maubisse.  Bombs were dropped on the town and the Hudsons then reconnoitred the roads in the area.  Two Zeros attacked and set on fire a Hudson captained by Flying Officer Wadey, [2] who was able to bail out before the machine crashed into the side of a hill.  This Zero then made seven unsuccessful attacks on the Hudsons which all remained in close formation except for one captained by Flying Officer Badger, who flew towards thin cloud, pursued by the second Zero.  Badger evaded the Zero by flying low along the valleys until he reached the sea.  There the Zero attacked again but was shot down into the sea at 50-yards range.  Wadey, badly burnt, was found by natives who carried him in a chair to men of Sparrow Force; later he was returned safely to Darwin”. [3]

Sid Wadey’s Account - Shot Down Over Timor

“On 21 August [1942], Flight Lieutenant Simon Fraser (A16-178) led five Hudsons out again to support Sparrow Force by attacking Maubisse, near Dili, for the second successive day.  Bombs were dropped on the town and the Hudsons reconnoitred the area for enemy activity.  Two Zeros attacked, and the Hudson crews soon became aware of ‘the ability of the enemy pilots and their obvious knowledge of the Hudson defences’. [4] The Zeros set on fire the aircraft flown by Flying Officer Sid Wadey (A16-209).  He was able to evacuate the aircraft, but his crew were unable to escape.  He described the engagement and his escape from his stricken Hudson:

‘When the Zero attacked from ahead, several bursts went through the instrument panel.  These I observed, as in slow motion; individual holes appearing, and the panel disintegrating, with a splintered (star effect) look around the holes pointing towards me.  Simultaneously, I was aware of my navigator passing me, and heading towards the body of the aircraft, when ‘whoosh’ - flames surrounded me as the incendiaries and cannon hit the inside fuel tank.

Behind the pilot's seat there is armour plating, but the tank extended a couple of inches past the vertical side of the plating, and that was where some of the projectiles went.  I saw some of the bullets hit Stan Faull, the navigator, in his back as he was passing through the entrance from the cockpit into the body of the aircraft, also he would have been directly alongside the exploding tank.  The other members of the crew were similarly in impossible predicaments.

In order to escape from the plane it was necessary for the crew to move forward in the body of the plane to one side or the other, grab the parachute, and clip it on the harness.  For the crew it was literally impossible in the intense heat and flames to find their respective (or any) parachute pack, grab it, clip it on, dash to the exit door in the back of the cabin and jettison the door, before they could jump out.  For the tail gunner, his position was even more desperate.  He had to swivel the turret, align it with an opening into the body of the aircraft, his only means of escape, then leap into what was a fiery furnace in order to obtain his pack.  I had been protected from the direct blast of the explosion of the petrol tank by the armour plating.  The sound was (Whoosh) muffled, and not at all similar to the sound of a bomb; and the actual pressure wave did not subsequently affect my hearing abilities, so the body impact was not great.

As we were flying in formation, my right hand was on the throttles, and I instinctively reacted very quickly, flicked the seat belt undone, and jumped at the correct angle, toward the escape hatch in the top of the aircraft.  In the process, I knocked back the throttles, and as I jumped vertically head first through the escape hatch, I was aware of being hit in the lower back by the top of the fuselage, as the slipstream forced me backward.  I fell clear of the aircraft on the right side, facing forward and could see A16-209 dropping back out of the formation with flames streaming back behind like a comet tail.  I looked around hoping to see other parachutes but realised that there would not be any.


Pre-enlistment studio portrait of 406716 Sergeant (Sgt) William Ross Edeson, 2 Squadron, RAAF, of West Leederville, WA.  He was a salesman prior to enlistment from Perth, WA on 31 March 1941.  Sgt Edeson died on operations over Timor in aircraft Hudson A16-209 on 21 August 1942; he was 27 years of age.  Sgt Edeson is buried at the Ambon War Cemetery, Indonesia. [4]

The formation continued along a straight flight path away from me, and they were still in perfect formation. All the other aircraft were OK.  I scanned the sky for Zeros - none in sight.  Decided I was now at about 1000 feet above the mountain - so pulled the ripcord - felt a jerk—looked up and saw the parachute open fully.  I watched A16-209 continue its rate one turn and disappear into the valley between the mountain for which I was aiming and the adjoining mountain.  The aircraft still had its comet tail of flames streaming behind it.  As I saw the plane disappear, simultaneously I observed a flight of 3 Zeros, in formation in the valley below, flying low above the trees, as they emerged from behind the opposite side of the mountain below.  To my surprise I landed legs together in the middle of the clearing at which I had aimed, slipped, then slid on to my behind a few yards.  Looking around I found myself in the clearing, which was a very small and a fairly steep rocky slope, the open space roughly circular and about fifteen yards in diameter, and to my amazement the trees surrounding me were, of all things, Gum Trees, growing densely amid dry grass which was 75 about three to five feet tall.  I had expected jungle, not eucalypti’”. [5]

2AIC War Diary:

“B Pl report that the plane referred to on 23 Aug 42 had been located approx. one mile EAST of CRIBAS (08412559).  The plane was a complete wreck having apparently exploded on crashing.  The badly burnt arms and legs of four bodies were buried by the patrol.  The one member of the crew who parachuted had been taken to BAUCAU (08272627) by PORTUGUESE and a patrol was immediately sent to contact him.  The following details about him were gleaned; he told the PORTUGUESE he was the pilot, was aged 24 years, his home was in PORT ADELAIDE and his name was GEORGE SYDNEY [WADEY].  Some of this information does NOT sound correct but will be checked by the patrol”. [6]

War Graves Team Report:

"13 January 1946


…. Witnesses stated that on 21st of August 1942 aircraft shot down by fighters at CRIBAS.  The last position stated in the intelligence narrative concerning this aircraft’s disappearance is in the vicinity of CRIBAS.  The bodies were buried by natives, all members being killed instantly.  The remains were exhumed and brought back to Koepang for reburial.  Captain. Crilley has identified the crew by locality and date as:

Crew List Hudson Bomber A16-209 – All, Except Wadey Killed in Action [7]


The bodies of Faull, Edeson, O’Reilly and Gould were subsequently re-interred at the Ambon War Cemetery.  Their names are listed at the Adelaide River War Cemetery on the Northern Territory Memorial.


Cribas and Hudson Bomber A16-209 crash site location map [8]

Locating The Crash Site - Ron Birch’s Notes

“South of Manatuto is the village of Cribas where I asked, always my questions were via an interpreter, if anyone had any knowledge of a plane crash in the area.  I was directed to an elderly local who remembered the crash.  The local agreed to accompany me to the site where, without prompting, he said that he remembered the big aircraft being shot down by another plane.  He pointed out where some of the wreckage landed on two sides of a narrow ravine and other wreckage on an easterly ravine side.  He remembers the parachute, he indicated what it was but did not know what to call it, landing slightly to the north of where we were.  The three bodies [four in fact] were near the wreckage on the easterly slope.  The badly burnt Wadey he remembers well and asked after him.  The three [four] dead crewmen he helped bury and pointed out the site.  I asked if any Australians had visited the site and he could not remember if any had.  The three dead crewmen have in fact been re buried in Ambon.

There is no visible wreckage now after 73 years of monsoonal rains washing down the ravines and yearly flooding.  The original grave sites were pointed out to me to be on the top of the eastern slope and should not be problem to locate and possibly have a quite think about.

This local, Manuel Luis, age unknown, is the last one alive who witnessed the shooting down and loss of this aircraft.

GPS: 8.°41.58' S, 125°58.89' E

ASOPT: 8°41'S, 125°59’E”. [9]


Hudson Bomber A16-209 crash site - 9 August 2022


[1] ASPT: 82.

[2] Adapted from ASPT: Map 1.

[3] Douglas Gillison. - Royal Australian Air Force 1939-42 (Australia in the War of 1939-1945, series 3 Air, v.1): 643-644.  https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1417627.  See also, Ed Willis “The Sid Wadey story – rescued on Timor”.  https://doublereds.org.au/forums/topic/207-the-sid-wadey-story-–-rescued-on-timor/#comment-370.

[4] https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1191818.

[5] Extract from Sid Wadey, The Operation Order for the Day Read, unpublished manuscript, courtesy of his widow Mrs M. Wadey, RAAF Hudson Squadrons Association, Adelaide reprinted in John Bennett. - Highest traditions: the history of No 2 Squadron, RAAF. – Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service, 1995: 195, 204.

[6] 24 August [2/2 war diary].  See also, GOULD Walter Herbert - (Sergeant); Service Number - 414224; File type - Casualty - Repatriation; Aircraft - Hudson; Place - Timor; Date - 21 August 1942.  NAA: A705, 163/118/426.  [Digitised]

[7] 24 August [2/2 war diary].  See also, GOULD Walter Herbert - (Sergeant); Service Number - 414224; File type - Casualty - Repatriation; Aircraft - Hudson; Place - Timor; Date - 21 August 1942.  NAA: A705, 163/118/426.  [Digitised]

[8] Adapted from MapCarta map – 21 January 2024.

[9] Ron Birch. – [Notes on] Portuguese East Timor – 2/2nd and 2/4th Independent Companies WW2 – RAAF Lost During The War In Portuguese East Timor – RAN Lost On The Timor Ferry Service. – September- October 2015. – Copy held in 2/2 Commando Association of Australia archives.  Thank you to Ron Birch for providing this site information.



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